With March around the corner, it is conference season for many schools. While conferences are undoubtedly a busy time for you as the teacher, with a little bit of planning they can prove to be a great relationship building event that will help you, the parents, and most importantly the students have a successful remainder of the school year.
Use what tools you have available to make the sign up process as seamless as possible. This will, of course, vary for each school/district. Understand any potential barriers that may be present: language, access to email, logistical challenges to be in-person at school. If you have a messaging system available to you, such as the in-app messaging available in SchoolCNXT, use this functionality to message parents to let them know you value their attendance and would love to see them at conferences, and then to confirm the conference date and time. The two-way translation and text-to-speech functionality will ensure all families will be able to participate in this dialogue.
Conferences are an ideal time, while you have the parents in-person, to review any resource you make available to them and/or the students and assist them, if needed, in signing up. You could also provide a basic orientation to the system to increase the likelihood of continued engagement.
Create a welcoming environment
Even though these are most certainly not the first conferences of the year, they may be the first time you have met some parents, especially if you use the technology you may have available to more equitably communicate about and schedule conferences. Make sure all parents feel welcomed by expressing your appreciation, ensuring you are sharing some positive feedback about their child, listening to the parents’ thoughts and input, and establishing preferences for future communication.
Take some time to think about any component of the conference that you may need to make accessible to parents in an alternate format. This may include inviting a translator, translation of printed resources, or a printed version of resources available online. In addition, if your school permits it, consider offering conference times by phone or even conference calling in one parent to ensure everyone can participate if they can’t physically make it into the building. Just because logistics may prevent a parent from coming to the school during conferences doesn’t mean they aren’t interested or engaged!
Remember that you want the conference to reinforce the parent’s initiative to be a partner in their child’s education. This participation on the part of the parent will help their child as they finish this school year and throughout the remainder of their academic career.